East London gentrified, but in a good way

East London gentrified, but in a good way

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Wed, 21/12/2011 - 20:53

Having lived in London for several years and frequented much of the central London district, I have been amazed to see just how much East London has developed over the last four years.

What was once a great location for a hip/trendy night out on the town — being historically renowned for being the home to many writers and artists over the years, as well has having the cemeteries to prove it — has now become a separate and unique mini-city on its own.

It always did have its charm, with its winding alleyways and interesting mixed of people, but as with many trendy areas, such as Williamsburg in north Brooklyn, New York, gentrification has really permeated the area as of late.

The change has come partly in the form of a number of new bars and restaurants, providing much scope for novel and entertaining nights out.

There is also a new tube (subway) line connecting the residential areas of Hackney, Dalston and Shoreditch to the traditional tube lines, making it infinitely easier to get around. Previously, residents would have to take complex bus journeys to reach their destinations.

Also, essential facilities, such as supermarkets and banks, are now sprinkled about the place, providing a more grounded and functional living environment for residents.

Whereas usually the idea of gentrification is met with mixed reviews, with long-term residents despising it while newcomers don't even notice it, the changes to East London appear to have been both moderate and tasteful. The gentrification of this corner of the English captial stands in marked contrast to the rather over-zealous changes to Wlliamsburg.

Surely, grudging residents and unaware newcomers must exist, but for the most part, London seems to have done a great job, and the area that was once stereotypically associated with either poverty or trust funds, now appears to comfortably accommodate both ends of the social spectrum. As a result, East London now has it own distinct, yet thoroughly functional, identify, setting it apart from the gentrified central and West London locations frequented by many.

Mixed with great, hidden restaurants, loads of new understated and unexplored bars, as well as historically infamous locations such as Brick Lane, East London has certainly become my favorite place to frequent in the capital. And if any reader is unfamiliar with the area, I highly recommend going there for a visit, if not moving there altogether.